Sunday, September 28, 2008

Advantages of a private healthcare system over a government-funded one

It is often believed by those that feel bad for poor people with no means for paying for their medical bills and insurance that universal government-funded healthcare is the answer. The article by Joe Peacott dispels this myth — as well as the one stating that in the world of privately-payed healthcare, the poor would be left sick and dead “on the roadside”.

Turning healthcare into a free-market, unregulated business would create normal competition, which would drive prices down, thus making healthcare more affordable. Lack of government regulation would further cut majority of expenses and reduce many problems in the system. Forcing people to take responsibility for their health — as they are forced to take responsibility for caring for their cars — would improve the general health of people in the country by changing their attitudes and behavior (both short- and long-term) regarding their own health. Obviously, this would reduce people’s dependency of the healthcare system and necessity to seek help if they still couldn’t afford it.

I don’t know if all this would completely eliminate dependency of very poor people on financial assistance — but that would be provided by private funds, much better controlled and directed (thus, less likely to be abused). I know someone who got cancer and could not afford visits to doctors — much less the surgery and post-surgical care, check-ups, medications, etc. (This was not cancer from smoking, lack of exercise, bad diet, or anything else in person’s control.) Even considering that many of the expenses were reduced in a healthy market situation, the person would still be unable to afford much of this. Well, she received “free care” coverage from one of the local private hospitals — which paid for all expenses. She did not get government-funded MassHealth; she already received private assistance.

If taxes were lower and hospitals’ and other organizations’ profits higher (and health expenses reduced due to eliminating most of government and in-hospital bureaucracy), they would be more likely to donate money for the needy — the really needy — patients.

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